NEW TITLES

Teachers and librarians review a fabulous selection of YA books for us this month, including action-packed adventure, historical fiction and contemporary stories tackling the everyday challenges many young people face.

100 Steps for Science: Why It Works and How It Happened
Lisa Jane Gillespie

Wide Eyed Editions

ISBN 9781847808431

This book, written by Lisa Jane Gillespie and illustrated by Yukai Du, is a lovely addition to a non-fiction collection. It covers 100 different things that made science the way we know it today, from counting and the abacus to how fibre optics work. The aim is not to explain a particular thing, but to look at how science has got to the point it has. Consequently, it covers the development of the wheel, medicine, light, sound waves, and lots of others things that have played a role in scientific progress. Due to the nature of covering so many topics they are not covered in detail, but are dealt with accurately. The subjects chosen are interesting, and detailed without getting bogged down in information. The style of the illustrations really adds a sense of fun and friendliness, while the pictures also add useful information and are accurate. There are 10 chapters which look at a range of different subject areas, and each chapter looks at 10 different entries within it, ranging from computers to environmentalism. The range of subjects is good and no background information is assumed, but it still manages to deal with incredibly complicated ideas (like the Big Bang Theory). The muted colours mean that while the pages are alluring the writing is still easy to read, and it's not the assault on the senses that some non-fiction books can be. When reading non-fiction books I always keep half an eye out looking at the representation of women and whether it's a whole world view of a subject, or an anglicised history. This book really does cover the subjects from a world-wide perspective - with ideas being started from the earliest beginnings (I hadn't realised the Babylonians counted in 60s which is why we use this method for time), and women, too, are present - it was nice to see the work of Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins referenced as being a pre-cursor to Crick and Watson's discovery of DNA, for example. A lovely non-fiction book, full of well explained facts and ideas, laid out in an engaging and accessible way. 64 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Alison Tarrant, school librarian.

100 Steps for Science: Why It Works and How It Happened
Never Say Die
Anthony Horowitz

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406377057

Alex Rider is back (publishing in June) in another action-packed, gadget- filled adventure. Living in America with Sabina and her family since the events of the last book, Alex has the chance of a new settled life. However, still haunted by the death of Jack Starbright, the closest thing to family he has, Alex cannot settle and an email suddenly fills him with the hope that there might have been a mistake. This is enough to set him off on his adventures again - this time on a very personal mission to seek the truth about Jack. From the first page, this book pulls you headlong into Alex's world. His quest takes him from America back to Egypt to the south of France and back to England as he searches for clues about where Jack might be. As ever, he finds himself up against some super villains and has to escape from some sticky situations, but he's ready for anything and always rises to the occasion. It is very hard to review a book like this without giving away all the action. Suffice it to say, fans of Alex Rider will not be disappointed! 368 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

Never Say Die
Dark Matter: Contagion: Book 1
Teri Terry

Orchard Books

ISBN 9781408341728

Another award winner from Teri Terry! I really enjoyed this conspiracy / SF / fantasy / thriller! It has elements of all these woven together into a complex and interesting plot that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat. Callie, a girl who has 'gone missing' and been subjected to experimentation at a highly secret location in Scotland; and Shay, a girl who may have been the last person to see Callie before she disappeared. A terrible virus begins to sweep the country, with a very low survival rate. The country is on lockdown, with Shay and Kai (Callie's brother) joining forces in the search to find her. However, all is not as it seems. I loved the structure of the super short chapters and the way the dual narratives flowed from one to the other. This style of writing will encourage not just advanced readers but also reluctant ones as they will have a feeling of accomplishment when they see how far they have read into the book. The opening chapters of the book are the countdown to the Contagion being released into the population, you almost can feel the clock ticking down as it is fast paced, with a build up of tension to see what will happen to Callie or subject 369X as she is also referred to. This book is fantasy but thought provoking, much of it chillingly believable. Young Adults will really enjoy the plot of the book as the main characters are also YA and it has so many twists and turns that will keep the reader intrigued. Can't wait for the next one in this trilogy. Get a copy soon and enjoy. 459 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Linda Brown, school librarian.

Dark Matter: Contagion: Book 1
Where the World Ends
Geraldine McCaughrean

Usborne Publishing Ltd

ISBN 9781474921145

Where the World Ends is a novel that is set in the Scottish Isles, in what turns out to be the 1700s. To begin with it seems very other-worldly, and the clues that set it in the real world are few and far between. We join a community as they say goodbye to a group of 'fowlers' - boys and men who are going off to gather food and supplies to keep the community going over the winter. There are clear signs of a forthcoming event or dilemma, but we are left to discover what happens as the story unfolds. There is a mix of language - most of it is as would be expected, with speech indicating the Scottish accent - but there are a few words that have been changed. This causes some questioning of what is actually going on, but fits with the myths, lore and beliefs of the story. The description of the birds and weather on 'the Stac' are evocative and realistic and the relationships between the characters are well portrayed. The main character is likeable and he develops as the story progresses, growing in depth and understanding. For me, the novel could have done without the last chapter - it unnecessarily complicates the story without adding much, and the change of perspective breaks the storytelling spell. That being said, the main plot is completed in a way that provides satisfaction (if not happiness). This novel is well worth a read for those who like historical novels, readers that like 'Dance of the Dark Heart' by Julie Hearn, and may appeal to non-fiction readers as it is based on a true story. 320 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Alison Tarrant, school librarian.

Where the World Ends
The Girl in Between
Sarah Carroll

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471160622

This is the very affecting and thought provoking story of a young girl squatting with her mum in an old flour mill. They haven't always been homeless and through a series of flashbacks the girl tells the story of how they ended up there. Terrified the girl will be taken again away by the mysterious Authorities, her mother has promised to give up drink and orders her to stay inside the mill, safe from prying eyes. So, the young girl passes her days watching the people who pass by everyday on their way to work, and those who live near them. Beneath the facade of their everyday lives, all seem unhappy, haunted by memories and isolated from those around them. The only one who sees the girl is the Caretaker - an old tramp haunted by the memory of a young mill girl, Rose. What happened to her? As winter approaches, and the mill is earmarked for development, her mother starts drinking heavily again. What is haunting her mother? It's time for them to move on, but moving on will mean facing some terrible truths. The young girl's voice is authentic and insightful and despite the hardships she faces, full of humour. Through her innocent eyes, we see the effects of her mum's alcoholism and drug abuse, but the girl never wavers in her love. Carroll tackles the plight of the homeless with compassion and understanding. The twist in the ending will resonate with readers. It will appeal to fans of Lockhart's'We were Liars' and of the film 'The Others'. With its short chapters, appealing narrative voice and assured handling of important topics it would be an ideal book to study with a class. 256 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Alison Ustun, school librarian.

The Girl in Between
Passing for White
Tanya Landman

Barrington Stoke Ltd

ISBN 9781781126813

This book is a touching tale of love, bravery and desperation. It is set in 1846 and while it starts from the point of view of Benjamin, the main tale is told from the point of view of Rosa. Both are slaves in the South states of America, and it follows their journey and fight for freedom. This is a brilliant choice by Barrington Stoke, which will be accessible to dyslexic readers - printed in the unique font and onto cream paper. It moves at a good pace, with short chapters, and the story is gripping and has a good chance of dragging even the most reluctant reader into its clasp, due to the plot twists. The characters are realistic and seem to be well grounded in historical accuracy. It would be an important addition to reading lists on race and civil rights, and gives something for your more reluctant reader on an important topic. Due to the shortness of the tale not all the characters are fully fleshed out, but this is a casualty of writing for the target audience, and doesn't affect the overall feel or satisfaction from the book. It is a definite addition to any school library. 104 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Alison Tarrant, school librarian.

Passing for White
Five Hundred Miles
Kevin Brooks

Barrington Stoke Ltd

ISBN 9781781125403

The blurb and title of this novel had me intrigued. This short story is more mature and therefore I would read this with those above 12 years old as it deals with some content that needs explaining, such as animal cruelty and prostitution, although these issues are only vaguely incorporated into the narrative. Told from a first person perspective of a young, but forced into maturity, boy, the narrative tells the tale of two brothers who meet a group of criminals in a pub. A monkey is being treated cruelly and a young girl attempts to rescue it, thereby getting herself into trouble with the criminals. Rescued by the two brothers, the girl and the monkey escape the criminals and begin a five hundred mile journey to a monkey sanctuary. Whilst I enjoyed this story, I couldn't help but be a little disappointed with the lack of development of the characters and the plot; I felt like I was reading the opening chapter of a much longer novel. However, despite this, it has many redeeming qualities and is perfect for a classroom. There are plenty of opportunities to develop the plot in more depth, develop a background story for all the characters and continue the story - what happens once the group reach Scotland, for example? To this end, the text is a great classroom addition and my students had plenty of fun developing the plot and characters. Barrington Stoke have printed this story on thick paper with big, bold font, making it easy to read and Dyslexia friendly. This novel is particularly boy-friendly as there is some violence (not graphic), bad guys and developing theme of crime. A good teaching novel for those teaching narrative writing. 88 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Joanna Hewish, teacher.

Five Hundred Miles
Who Runs the World?
Virginia Bergin

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781509834037

This is a dystopian adventure set in a world where a virus has killed all the men. The outbreak of the virus occurred a few generations ago, and while we see the story unfold from the point of view of a teenager, she is well connected to her elders, which gives the reader a historical perspective of the outbreak of the virus. The protagonist, River, finds a boy in the woods on her way home, and the story develops from there. The concept of a virus killing all the men in the world is not a new one (there's a great series of graphic novels called 'Y' for older readers in which this is the case as well) but the world the author has created here is a world of femininity and harmony. This book could be a powerful tool for discussions surrounding gender bias - it certainly provoked a few thoughts for me. I found it troubling in parts - the idea that if all men were removed society would be harmonious is not something I subscribe to, and the association of men with only negative actions also caused me some concern. Ideas about custom and manners are also raised, but again, I found some of what seemed to be saying troubling (women shouldn't be naked around men because of the risk of rape - really??) but it also caused me to reflect on the customs and 'manners' that are so deeply ingrained in our society. Some of these concerns are alleviated by the final portion of the book. The story is well written and the protagonist is realistic, with realistic teenage angst and relationships. I felt the world was realistically created, and the story also deals with themes of retribution, justice and freedom. I think this book will appeal to 12-16 year olds, but may need some support in terms of discussion. 352 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Alison Tarrant, school librarian.

Who Runs the World?
Goldenhand: The latest thrilling adventure in the internationally bestselling fantasy series
Garth Nix

Hot Key Books

ISBN 9781471404467

Goldenhand is the very welcome return to the world of the Old Kingdom, continuing the story of Lireal, former Second Assistant Librarian, now Abhorsen-in-Waiting. This new and rather unexpected role means that she has dead creatures to battle and dangerous Free Magic entities to bind. Saving Nicholas Sayre after he has been attacked and left unconscious by a hideous creature, she finds he is deeply tainted with Free Magic. The only hope of saving him is to return to the Clayr's Glacier, her childhood home. A messenger is also on their way there, to warn Lireal that great danger is threatening the Old Kingdom, with an attack from the Witch With No Face. Just as Lireal feels she has found a new life, family and love for the first time, she faces losing it all. A perilous journey, in this world as well as in Death, and much courage will be needed in order to save everything she holds dear. Garth Nix is indeed a master fantasy writer, creating a wholly believable world, peopled with characters the reader comes to care deeply about. His attention to detail brings the world of the Old Kingdom alive, imbuing every page with Charter Magic so real you can almost feel it at your fingertips. If you have not read his work before, I urge you to seek out this spellbinding series; if you are an aficionado, then prepare to be enthralled once more. 432 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Jayne Gould, school librarian.

Goldenhand: The latest thrilling adventure in the internationally bestselling fantasy series
Troublemakers
Catherine Barter

Andersen Press Ltd

ISBN 9781783445240

What a wonderful debut novel by Catherine Barter. Troublemakers is one of those books that is completely different from all the others on the shelves at the moment and it makes a refreshing change. The book deals with death, politics, finding your own identity and terrorism. Troublemakers is set in London, Alena is a 15 year old girl who is struggling to come to terms with losing her mother when she was a child and her brother Danny - who is her legal guardian - refusing to tell her anything about her. Alena has grown up with Danny and his partner Nick in London, which is now being threatened by a bomber who is leaving devices in supermarket. Troublemakers is such a thought provoking story considering our current political climate, where things feel like they are moving more to the extremes than ever before as people are losing hope in what seems to be an increasingly broken system. I really enjoyed the mystery element of the book as Alena digs into her mother's past, hoping to find some connections so that she can find out something about her. During this time she comes across some information that she feels is unjust and makes the impulsive decision to make this known to others without thinking about the consequences. I highly recommend this exciting and wonderful addition to the Young Adult market and look forward to reading other books by this new author. I would recommend the novel to 13+ readers but only due to the political issues in the book and perhaps the fearful element of the terrorism as this may upset younger readers. As stated before, some young readers would identify with this book due to our current political climate and with the recent terror attacks in our capital city. It has 371 pages with cleverly written short chapters that will keep any active reader interested. 371 pages / Ages 13+ / Reviewed by Linda Brown, school librarian.

Troublemakers
Girlhood: A Zoella Book Club 2017 novel
Cat Clarke

Quercus Children's Books

ISBN 9781784292737

Fans will be thrilled to see a new Cat Clarke novel and her latest is set at an isolated girls' boarding school - the perfect setting to capture the intensity and angst of teenaged girl friendships. When Harper joins the school's sixth form, she is still grieving the death of her twin sister to anorexia and the guilt that she carries for what she sees as her part in her sister's illness. She is taken under the wing of a group of friends who prove to be funny, warm and tremendously loyal but the arrival of new girl Kirsty tests that friendship to its limits and gives the plot an eeriness and tension that drives the suspense and definitely keeps you turning the pages. Clarke's writing is easy to read and entertaining but she also covers some big issues including bereavement, bullying and entitlement (this is a very rich girls' boarding school while Harper comes from a 'normal' family) as well as exploring the very intense friendships that can develop at this age. The story also touches on the girls' sexuality and we quickly learn if they are straight, bi or gay - and there is some swearing and drinking, which puts it into the older category even if the story itself could be enjoyed by 12/13+ readers. I think that teenaged girl readers would be intrigued by the plot and there is lots to enjoy in the friendships and pranks, as well as being carried along by the sometimes creepy plot. 384 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Emma Green.

Girlhood: A Zoella Book Club 2017 novel
A Tragic Kind of Wonderful
Eric Lindstrom

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780008147501

A Tragic Kind of Wonderful (now available in paperback). A YA title which at its simplest is a story of not just coping with mental illness but living with it. But that hardly does it justice. It's about relationships and trust; about the ability to be honest about who you are and trust that friends will be OK with that. Mel Hannigan is back at school, she's doing her level best to catch up on work missed and maintain friendships. She's working hard to recognise her bipolar disorder, categorise her dysphoric mania and develop strategies to live with it and with the help of her friend Dr Jordan, a resident at the Silver Sands Suites where Mel works, it looks like she's managing! But revelations within her previous friendship group look set to upset the balance threatening to bring the fragile house of cards down. Eric Lindstrom has deftly constructed an immensely likeable character in Mel and surrounded her with the very best of family and the charming residents of the Silver Sands Suites. With Mel's brother, Noah, Eric has added in a mystery which we unwrap as the narrative progresses. With Zumi, Annie and Connor we see both the beauty and the destructive nature of some relationships - and are drawn to wondering whatever happened in their group? I was really rooting for Mel, daring her to be brave enough to open up and talk about her illness to key people, about her daily battles, but I could also feel her nervousness, the fear that that knowledge laid bare would alter those friendships. The power of talking, honest talking, should not be underestimated and I am delighted to see mental health tackled in fiction in the hope it will prompt conversations and foster understanding. 352 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Catherine Purcell, school librarian.

A Tragic Kind of Wonderful
Carve the Mark (Carve the Mark, Book 1)
Veronica Roth

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780008157821

Mixed thoughts about this book, so a warning first... do not read this if you are a fan of the Divergent series, as I did - you might be disappointed. But if you are a fan of science fiction, I promise you, you will be delighted. Love this author's style of writing and this is the one thing that kept me going through the book. The chapters flit between the two main characters, Cyra and Akos, who come from two different planets and they are sworn enemies - anything sound familiar here? There is a Romeo and Juliet type of romance between these two characters that slowly develops and fully booms by the end of the book. Carve the Mark tells the story of Akos from the Thuvhe people, captured by the people of Shotet and given to Cyra, a woman whose 'current gift' brings her only pain and whose brother, Ryzek, is a murderous tyrant. Akos is gentle but tough, and is certainly a survivor. He is driven by loyalty to his family, most particularly his love for his brother. There are also a few more very strong female characters in the book, so this may appeal to some of our strong minded female readers. The story takes place in space, however this isn't very clear until you get well into the story, you could be anywhere,at first I thought it was set in mid west America, due to the repeated mention of 'feather grass'. You also learn more about the Shotet society than the Thuvhe, I think this is because they are the superior race. There are some very vague racial factors in the book, hence the low rating as I genuinely did quite like much of the story. Another warning for our YA readers, there is quite a few references to self harming, this is where the title of the book comes from as when the Shotet people make a killing they recognise the kill by carving a mark into their skin, not nice! I would only recommend this book to avid well read, confident fans of sci-fi and of the author. 14+ due to some of the content. The hardback copy has 468 pages with a glossary at the back to explain some of the wonderful new made up words. As I said at the beginning, mixed thoughts, but I will read the next book to see how the characters develop. 468 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Linda Brown, school librarian.

Carve the Mark (Carve the Mark, Book 1)